By Chu Maoming, China’s Consul General in Lagos
“Wisdom is like a baobab tree that one individual cannot embrace.” This African adage tells how mankind should cooperate when dealing with global issues. Such words are ringing truer in today’s world as no single country alone can tackle current crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading across the world and causing a severe impact on the global economy, the world is faced with daunting tasks in global economic recovery. In this age of economic globalization, countries share economic interdependency and intertwined interests like never before. Openness and integration is an unstoppable historical trend, and to treat each other with sincerity and pursue shared benefits is the fundamental solution to maintaining state-to-state relations in today’s world.
Through the arduous efforts of the Chinese people, China has made major strategic achievements in the fight against the COVID-19 and witnessed a steady recovery of its economy. China’s development is inseparable from the world, and the world needs China for prosperity.
China and Africa enjoy a long-lasting friendship. A recent survey conducted in 18 African countries by Afrobarometer, a pan-African research organization, showed that up to 60 percent of Africans believe China’s economic and political influence in Africa is positive. In return, China is always ready to share its experience with its African friends and other developing countries that uphold the same aspiration to let their people live better lives.
Recently, Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine has been validated for emergency use. This makes it the first Chinese vaccine that has been officially recognized by the WHO. This also means that the China vaccine can play a greater role in blocking the virus from further spreading.
Sinopharm’s vaccine is the first COVID-19 vaccine developed by a developing country that has been validated by the WHO, and the sixth vaccine that has been approved for emergency use globally. Mr. Ghebreyesus said the WHO has included this vaccine on the emergency use list because of its “safety, efficacy and quality”. Indeed, this vaccine has been proved to be effective with solid data to support this. As Ms. Mariangela Simao, a WHO assistant director-general for access to health products, pointed out, the vaccine’s efficacy for the symptomatic and hospitalized disease was estimated to be 79 percent, for all age groups combined.
The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk.
China has, so far, provided vaccine assistance to more than 80 developing countries, helping them solve their urgent needs and saving many lives. This demonstrates China’s firm determination to build consensus on cooperation and promote mutual benefit and win-win results for all countries through concrete actions. Once on the WHO list of emergency use, the Chinese vaccine can help accelerate the promotion of global vaccine coverage, which is crucial to international cooperation on controlling the pandemic as soon as possible. The validation of the Sinopharm vaccine by the WHO has also greatly boosted the confidence of developing countries to strengthen their research and development capabilities to seek solutions for major domestic and global health problems.
In the face of the current crisis, only by fighting the virus together and developing an open world economy can countries accelerate global economic recovery and eventually steer the global economy out of the gloom of the pandemic as quickly as possible. I am sure that when the world is racing against time to beat COVID-19, the Sinopharm vaccine offers countries more choices with its accessibility and affordability, helping the world overcome the vaccine divide. In this fast-changing world, China and Africa will surely continue to work together and stride forward along the path of building a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.